As Prakash Jha’s Aashram comes under attack, here’s a look at India’s controversial ‘babas’


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Prakash Jha’s rendition of a self-proclaimed man-god in India, played by Bobby Deol in the “Aashram” web series, came on Saturday. attacked by Bajrang Dal militants, who claimed that the name of the show was an “assault” against Hinduism. Echoing this thought, the Home Secretary of Madhya Pradesh – where the filming of the show’s third season was taking place – Narottam Mishra also said: “Why do you shoot scenes that hurt our feelings? If you’ve got the guts why don’t you shoot some bad scenes [the followers of] other religions?

Although the creators maintain that the work is purely fictional, Deol Baba Nirala’s “Kashipur waale” closely resembles Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh, the leader of Dera Sacha Sauda, ​​who was recently convicted of a second murder (of his employee Ranjit Singh and previously, from journalist Ram Chander Chhatrapati), and currently serves prison sentence for rape two of his female disciples.

Dera Sacha Sauda Chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh. (Express photo by Jaipal Singh)

Although Mishra and Bhopal MP Sadhvi Pragya claim that the portrayal of a saint in Aashram is an attack on the Hindu religion, the reality is that many saints in the past have been convicted by Indian courts for their notorious act. Here is a look at some of these so called godman:

Asaram Bapu

Asaram was found guilty of raping a 16 year old girl, who was studying in his ashram in Chhindwara in 2013. A court in Jodhpur on April 25, 2018 sentenced Asaram to life in prison. After the girl filed a complaint, a Surat woman and her older sister, who had been raped respectively by Asaram and her son, Narayan Sai, also came forward. An order of the Surat Sessions Court in April 2019 had sentenced Sai to life imprisonment also.

In August this year, seven people were sentenced to one year in prison after the Gandhinagar Magistrates’ Court found them guilty of rioting and injuring them. In July 2008, the followers of Asaram had attacked a group of journalists with sticks, who were outside his ashram in Motera, covering a bandh called in to protest the deaths of two underage boys who were students at the ashram’s gurukul.

Asaram Bapu comes to testify before the DK Trivedi commission which is investigating the deaths of two boys found dead in the ashram of Asaram in 2008. (Express File Photo by Ashwin Sadhu)

Swami Nithyananda

Nithyananda has made headlines over the years, some bizarre and others more than one series of accusations leveled against him by his supporters. The man-god fled the country after being accused in a rape trial. In November 2019, an FIR was filed against Nithyananda and two of his supporters at an ashram based in Ahmedabad for allegedly kidnapping, confining and torturing two minors and a 19-year-old woman.

However, this is not the only controversy surrounding the ‘swami.’ In 2010, a video of Nithyananda surfaced on local news channels in which he was allegedly shown engaging in sex acts with a Tamil actress. He defended himself at the time by saying that he was only “practicing shavasana” and that he was powerless.

A complaint has been filed against him in Bangalore. He was finally arrested in the Solan district of Himachal Pradesh on April 21, 2010. Nithyananda was however released on bail. Two years later, however, it landed in the soup again when a US-based woman claimed Nithyananda had abused her for five years.

More than a year after fleeing India in 2019 to escape arrest in a rape trial, Nithyananda has unveiled a new central bank and fresh minted currency from Kailasa – the “Sovereign Hindu Nation” he claims to have founded.

Sant Rampal

In 2018, a Haryana court convicted the so-called god Rampal and 27 of his followers in two murder cases. He was rewarded life sentences in both cases, which now run simultaneously.

The two murder cases concern the deaths of five women and a child who died of suffocation and illness during a two-week standoff and clashes between Rampal supporters and police in November 2014. That year, the Punjab and Haryana High Court ordered police to arrest Rampal after he failed to appear in court in a murder conspiracy case in 2006. However, when the police went to arrest him, Rampal and his assistants barricaded themselves and took refuge inside his Satlok ashram.

Sant Rampal

Swami Sachidanand

Four devotees accused Swami Sachidanand and three of his collaborators of gangrapage in December 2017. While the Basti police in August 2018 arrested two of the supporters of the man-god, including a woman, the Swami was said to be running away from the law.

The Petlad-based Swami was also facing charges in connection with the murder of a Babu Mohaniya at the First Ashram near Petlad on July 17, 2006.

Sachidanand, also known as “Builder Baba” and “Disco Baba” was stripped his title of “mahamandaleshwar” by the All India Akhara Parishad for its involvement in the “liquor trade”. There are also reports of land grabbing and illegal alcohol trade charges against Dutta in Punjab and Haryana – but there are few details on the cases.

Sachin Dutta who became Mahamandaleshwar. (Express File Photo by Gajendra Yadav)

Sant Swami Bhimanand

Shiv Murat Dwivedi, aka Ichchadhari Sant Swami Bhiman and Ji Maharaj Chitrakoot Wale, is said to have amassed crore-level wealth by leading a sex racket. He is also accused of running a flesh trading website.

On February 25, 2010, he was detained with two flight attendants for running a prostitution ring for nearly a decade in Delhi. On March 9 of that year, he was slapped with the MCOCA for meat trading.

Swami Shraddananda

Shraddananda, who buried his wife Shakereh alive in their Bangalore home to usurp her huge property, was sentenced to life imprisonment by the Supreme Court in 2008.

According to reports, the man-god, serving his sentence in the Sagar district of Madhya Pradesh, had sought to spend the rest of his life out of prison in August this year.

Radhe Maa

The self-proclaimed godfather Radhe Maa, her real name Sukhvinder Kaur, was accused in 2015, by a certain Niki Gupta, of having incited her parents-in-law to harass her for the dowry. In 2017, the metropolitan magistrate of Borivali rejected a request for dismissal filed by Radhe Maa and found that it was “directly linked” to the incident of domestic violence.

In 2016, an FIR was filed against her under the Weapons Act for carrying a “trishul” (trident) on a flight from Aurangabad to Mumbai last year. In the same year, a complaint was filed against her for posing as the goddess Durga and deceiving the devotees into taking money from them.

In 2015, TV actress Dolly Bindra accused Radhe Maa of intimidation, sexual harassment and voyeurism and an FIR was filed. Bindra, who was a follower of the woman-god, said her prayer meetings were “obscene” and that Radhe Maa “forced” her to “approach” her male devotees.

Akhil Bharatiya Akhara Parishad placed Radhe Maa on his list of 14 “false babas”

Premananda

Also known as Trichy Sai Baba, Premananda was sentenced to two life sentences in 1994 for several criminal offenses, including rape and murder. Premananda has been charged with raping inmates at his ashram in Trichy as well as performing crude medical breaks in some of the resulting pregnancies with the help of a few associates. He was also charged with the murder of an engineer who opposed the ashram’s nefarious activities. He died in 2011.

Asif Noori

A self-proclaimed Godman of Parbhani of Maharashtra district was arrested in 2018 for allegedly causing his male supporters to engage in unnatural sex acts by claiming to have divine powers. Police got a feel for the situation after a complaint was filed by a few locals who claimed that video clips of the man-god, Asif Noori, forcing followers to have unnatural sex were circulating on the streets. social networks.

Noori used to target young married men from the Nanded and Parbhani districts of Marathwada and claimed to solve their personal problems.

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